Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to make a* egg

Once people come to think of it, they have a ton of questions about how chickens make eggs. Can hens make eggs if there is no rooster? Do they make like five eggs a day, or one per week?
these five eggs: did they all pop out from the same hen in one exhausting day?

The usual answer to the how-many-eggs question is something indigestible like: 2 hens will lay 3 eggs in 2 days. Something that, when you try to reduce it, leaves you with half a hen or half an egg.

It takes a hen about a day or day and a half to produce and lay an egg. That's the rule of thumb. The actual rate varies, depending on stuff like breed (some breeds were created to just become big and fat and have little energy to spare for eggs) and--ESPECIALLY--time of year.

"Time of year?", you say?

Yes! Eggs are naturally a seasonal food, like oysters and Mallomars. Hens are set up to lay eggs most strongly in the spring and summer. As the days get shorter through the fall, their laying drops off precipitously. These days we can trick a chicken--I'll tell you how next time--so that these days everyone just eats eggs year-round, and we all think it's as natural as pie.

Mmmmm, pie.

OK, I have to go eat some pie, so I'll just tell you quickly: if there are no roosters around, hens lay unfertilized eggs. These are the kind of eggs you get at the grocery store. Hens who lay grocery store eggs have probably never seen a rooster in their entire lives.

*I know, I know: AN egg. But this is how the chickens say it.

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